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Tue Aug 15, 2017, 09:36 PM

Strafgesetzbuch Section 86a - Important reason why it exists. Time for the US to wake up.

While a majority of Americans are in shock right now and trying to digest what they are witnessing in the last several days with images of torches and nazi emblems, nazi salutes from Charlottesville, VA and the shocking response from Trump since then, imagine what is going through the minds of Holocaust survivors and anyone who has family who died at the hands of nazis or died fighting the nazis.

My family has members who bravely fought the Nazis and yes, some who died. I grew up keenly aware from both my German and Danish family why they died, what evil the Nazi's perpetrated and how it could never be allowed ever again. My family came to America and saw America as the "Land of the Free" and the country that liberated the world from the Nazi's and Nazism. Today, the ones who remember the War or those who died at the hands of Nazis or fighting the Nazis, would be in shock. I am in shock right now. My family and friends in Germany are in shock right now seeing the emblems of the Nazi's and the Nazi salutes being used in 2017 in America. And being defended by the President of the United States. And hearing that President state that the opposition is a moral equivalent or worse.

In Germany, the very symbols and emblems that were being paraded down the streets of Charlottesville, VA and the torch lit images of the nazi salute of stretched arms and the words of "Blood and Soil" (Blut und Boden) are forbidden in Germany and can result in not just arrest, but imprisonment for up to 3 years. That may seem "against freedom of speech" or extreme. I say it isn't extreme enough.

There is a reason it exists and the Germans understand all too well. Symbols and the evil meaning that they represent can destroy a society and kill people.

I believe these symbols, including the confederate flag and symbols of the Klu Klux Klan should be banned from being publicly displayed in the United States. I believe anyone who defends their use, or defends anyone who follows their hateful and evil beliefs is a Nazi and an enemy of our Nation, an enemy of humanity. I believe the US Congress should pass a law that bans these symbols and salutes from being used, similar to how the Germans have done in their country. Stop this evil from growing while we still can.

Today in Germany, Nazi emblems and other emblems and symbols of hate, Nazi salutes in written form, vocally, and even straight-extending the right arm as a saluting gesture (with or without the phrase), are illegal. It is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years of prison as per Strafgesetzbuch section 86a. Some exceptions in the usage for art, teaching and science is allowed.

This is my 10,000th post on the Democratic Underground. Never did I ever believe in my wildest dreams that I would be posting on this topic after watching the President of the United States defend people who use these symbols of hate and live by those symbols of hate and criticize the people who speak out against that hate.

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Reply Strafgesetzbuch Section 86a - Important reason why it exists. Time for the US to wake up. (Original post)
Pachamama Aug 2017 OP
leftstreet Aug 2017 #1
bdamomma Aug 2017 #2
Maven Aug 2017 #3
stopbush Aug 2017 #4
bora13 Aug 2017 #23
obamanut2012 Aug 2017 #5
Jim Lane Aug 2017 #7
obamanut2012 Aug 2017 #8
Jim Lane Aug 2017 #10
onenote Aug 2017 #11
Stonepounder Aug 2017 #17
Jim Lane Aug 2017 #34
Chellee Aug 2017 #22
Tumbulu Aug 2017 #24
Jim Lane Aug 2017 #35
Tumbulu Aug 2017 #37
leanforward Aug 2017 #6
burrowowl Aug 2017 #9
oasis Aug 2017 #12
sandensea Aug 2017 #13
PoliticAverse Aug 2017 #27
a la izquierda Aug 2017 #14
lambchopp59 Aug 2017 #30
Tumbulu Aug 2017 #38
smirkymonkey Aug 2017 #15
marylandblue Aug 2017 #16
Lithos Aug 2017 #19
funflower Aug 2017 #18
Ezior Aug 2017 #36
SWBTATTReg Aug 2017 #20
spanone Aug 2017 #21
Oak2004 Aug 2017 #25
Tumbulu Aug 2017 #40
PoliticAverse Aug 2017 #26
The Velveteen Ocelot Aug 2017 #28
Tumbulu Aug 2017 #41
PatrickforO Aug 2017 #29
lambchopp59 Aug 2017 #31
marybourg Aug 2017 #32
Phoenix61 Aug 2017 #33
MineralMan Aug 2017 #39

Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 09:37 PM

1. Very nice 10,000th

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 09:49 PM

2. What happened

today was disgusting from a FAKE president, he is out of control and he will destroy this country. He is giving his militia the go ahead. This is disgusting to those who gave their lives for freedom and democracy in WWII.

WTF!!!! I hate Trump he's looking more and more like a grand wizard.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 09:52 PM

3. I agree with you.

Seeing certain rights as absolutes--particularly the right to promote hatred and the right to carry firearms--can have seriously dangerous and destructive effects on a republic. I think that countries such as Germany have placed limits on both of these activities because they act as guard rails that safeguard civil society. There is wisdom in it that is borne out of experience -- painful experience that told them that It Can Happen Here, did happen, and they are under no illusions that it could happen again. Now we see what happens without those guard rails and with immoral leaders in charge: freedoms can become weapons. Let's hope we get wise before it's too late, if it isn't already.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 09:59 PM

4. I expressed this same sentiment here the other day

and was roundly ridiculed for offending the First Amendment.

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Response to stopbush (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:13 AM

23. i get huffy

when people take a loose attempt at the free speech
part of the 1st amendment.

It only says that the govt. can't take away your right to free speech.

Says nothing about general talk amongst people.

I can say fuck you and the only thing you can do is ignore or respond somehow.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:09 PM

5. I agree -- it is AT BEST incitement

I am not a Free Speech absolutist, and if crying FIRE in a crowded theater is illegal, how is this not?

Terrific post.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #5)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:32 PM

7. A brief lecture on the First Amendment

 

Consider two cases:
* A demagogue ranting at a crowd persuades them to storm a jail, overpower a handful of outnumbered LEOs, and seize and execute a despised prisoner. (This is how Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church, actually died.)
* Someone writes a newspaper op-ed denouncing abortion as murder and calling for drastic restrictions on it. An unhinged person reads the op-ed and that's the final straw leading him to bomb a Planned Parenthood clinic.

In each case we have speech, we have criminal violence by someone who agrees with the speaker, and we have a causal connection between them. Should the two cases therefore be treated identically?

The answer, as it has developed in American law over the decades, is No. It has generally seemed reasonable to prohibit the speech in the first case. On the other hand, it has generally been thought that freedom of speech would be too greatly curtailed if "this might lead to violence at some point" were accepted as a sufficient basis for making the speech illegal.

The difference has been given different formulations, such as "a clear and present danger to public order." The general idea is that the danger must be imminent, and not speculative along the lines of "this might happen." Obviously this isn't a bright-line test. There could be a series of intermediate cases between the two I described, with the strength of the justification varying along a continuum, and there would be some where even judges who agree on the test to be applied disagree about whether this case meets it. Still, no one has come up with anything better.

The German law described in the OP wouldn't be a tough case. In the United States it would easily be deemed to go way too far in suppressing speech. If it somehow got to the Supreme Court, there would be a 9-0 decision striking down the law.

My personal belief is that our current First Amendment jurisprudence is, in this respect, fundamentally sound. There are probably quite a few people here who would disagree. I'm not going to bother trying to persuade them. I'm just trying to answer your question about the constitutionality of a law suppressing the use of Nazi (or Confederate) symbols.


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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:36 PM

8. I read not one word of that -- I neither want nor need your lecture

Thanks for being so patronizing.


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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #8)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:40 PM

10. Uh, just whom do you think I was patronizing?

 

My intention in calling my post a "lecture" was to poke fun at myself.

Anyway, although your decision not to read the post was based on a misunderstanding, it was probably the right decision.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:43 PM

11. +1

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 11:45 PM

17. I'm not completely satisfied that this is truly a settled question.

There is a fine line between protected free speech and prohibited libel and/or incitement to violence.

For example, see Beauharnais v. Illinois:

Facts of the case:
Joseph Beauharnais, president of White Circle League, Inc., was arrested on January 7, 1950 for distributing leaflets on Chicago street corners. The leaflets called in part upon the mayor and aldermen of Chicago "to halt the further encroachment, harassment and invasion of white people…by the Negro." Beauharnais was charged with violating an Illinois law making it illegal to distribute any publication that "exposes the citizens of any race, color, creed or religion to contempt, derision, or obloquy." A jury found him guilty and he was fined $200. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed his conviction.

Question:
Did Beuharnais' conviction under the Illinois statute violate his constitutional right to free speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion:
No. In a 5 – 4 opinion authored by Justice Felix Frankfurter, the Court concluded that Beuharnais' speech amounted to libel and was therefore beyond constitutional protection. Citing the racial tensions of the day, the Court characterized Beuharnais' speech as provocative and rejected the argument that the Illinois statute could be easily abused, stating, "Every power may be abused, but the possibility of abuse is a poor reason for denying Illinois the power to adopt measures against criminal libels sanctioned by centuries of Anglo-American law."

"Beauharnais v. Illinois." Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/343us250. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.

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Response to Stonepounder (Reply #17)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 01:33 AM

34. You're right that it's not fully settled. There are always gray areas.

 

Beauharnais concerned primarily libel rather than imminent danger, but in each of those areas, it's no surprise that there are 5-4 decisions (like Beauharnais itself).

BTW, Beauharnais was decided more than 60 years ago. The overall trend since then has been toward stronger protection for free speech. I'll hazard a guess that, if the same facts came up today, the statute would be invalidated.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:06 AM

22. I read it.

A reasoned argument. The cure for horrible speech is always better speech.

Thank you.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:14 AM

24. Well I am over the first amendment then.

I see no value in it, and frankly think it has just been used by bigots and porn nuts to bully the rest of us around.

I have spent my life watching so called liberals defending hate and violence in speech and film and it is the one thing that I agree with conservatives about.

Not that it matters what I think. I just don't care to hear any more defense of it. It simply disgusts me.

Just like today's press conference.

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #24)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 01:44 AM

35. Let me suggest a broader view of the history of the First Amendment.

 

You write that you "think it has just been used by bigots and porn nuts to bully the rest of us around." The protection for bigots is obviously on everyone's mind after the murder in Charlottesville, but free speech hasn't "just" been used for those people. Important cases have invoked the First Amendment to protect the free speech of socialists, union organizers, civil rights activists, Vietnam War protestors, and others.

There are also some cases that didn't even arise. Would Trump and Sessions like to enforce a prohibition on criticism of the President? I'm sure they would, and such laws have been enacted in the past. They don't hold back because of their principled commitment to an open society. They hold back because they know that any such law would be speedily held unconstitutional. Take away the First Amendment and watch what they do. Maybe you and I will be cellmates.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #35)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 10:01 AM

37. It really does not matter what I think about it

But it reveals things about those who defend it.

I notice that aggressive types and billionaires ( Citizen United comes to mind) love defending it.

Porn nuts, misogynists, and racists seem to be the primary defenders of its current interpretation. All people who have not, as a group, been victims of systematic abuse for which the "speech" illicits PTSD reactions.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:14 PM

6. I agree with you

What happened today has left me thoroughly disgusted. I am a loyal american in opposition to anything to do with dRumpf and anything to do with the aforementioned hatred groups.

That whinney b******d . . . . . . . . .

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:38 PM

9. Excellent 10,000 Post

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:55 PM

12. Great post. Thanks for the info.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 11:27 PM

13. When Hitler said "we lost the war; but shall win the peace,"

This regime (and the Bushes) is exactly what he meant.

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Response to sandensea (Reply #13)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:27 AM

27. Please provide a source for that quote. n/t

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 11:34 PM

14. I am Germany right now...

Trump headlines are on the billboards in all the metro stations. People here are very puzzled about what's happening with the US.

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Response to a la izquierda (Reply #14)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:40 AM

30. And we are equally puzzled, but witnessing a phenomenon:

The Fox News effect. RW hate radio backlash. Thousands of Americans across vast stretches of the heartland of the U.S. are subjected to hatemongering daily now for over a decade. Some areas of the country there is no more intellectual alternative. The hatemongering airwaves attract those who tended to reject education and general intellectual pursuits in their youth, and prefer the 4th-grade level sound bytes, mostly falsehood, but easier to mentally digest than I.E. in-depth, intellectual journalism presented such as "Democracy Now" and other public broadcast programming. We've witnessed the phenomenon feeding on itself: intentional
"dumbing down" of the U.S. consumer and worker by the right wing, who in turns de-funds public intellectual broadcasting in favor of more hatemongering garbage that earns them votes.
And it is erupting in violence.
Visits to the Midwestern heartland of this country were truly frightening to me in recent years. I had to help care for my aging parents, get my father placed in a nursing home and home care for my later mother as well. While I was there, I saw anti_Obama bumperstickers, billboards and occasionally heard shockingly wild "anti-left-wing" talk being propagated. My father, once a reasonable person, died one hateful old pill addicted to Fox News.
The consumers of this primarily greed-justifying media often take the anti-socialism statements one step beyond what gets broadcast, and the "welfare queen" scenarios first spun by their king Reagan in the 1980's have finally, and violently spawned:
WHISIS.

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Response to lambchopp59 (Reply #30)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 10:07 AM

38. It seems to me that is has been going on for three decades

And the urban liberals refused to take it seriously. But all of us who live and work in these areas have been verbally attacked - it's generational.

Fantastic post- thanks for articulating it so well!

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 11:38 PM

15. Congrats and thank you for your 10,000th post!

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 11:45 PM

16. Here is the problem with that approach

Below is a link to a list of 178 symbols use by alt-right groups. Most don't have swastikas. Some are just boots. Some are numbers. And what about Pepe the frog? He started out as just a regular cartoon. No matter how many symbols you ban, it won't change their minds. These groups will find something else. If Germany has not returned to the horrors of the past, it is because they are far more vigilant about these groups than we are. On the other hand we are just now waking up from our comforting delusion that it can't happen here. Hopefully we have not woken up too late.


www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols?page=1

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #16)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 11:54 PM

19. Section 86a does not ban specific symbols outright

Rather it bans symbols used in a context which is construed as supporting one or more hate groups and ideologies. Over the years they have built up a large and living body of legal rulings which define what is and what is not allowed.

For instance a Swastika is banned as it connotes support for a hate group, but a crossed out Swastika (i.e., used in a context saying "no" to Nazism) is allowed.

I rather like that they consider the KKK's Solar Cross as a symbol of a hate group.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Aug 15, 2017, 11:48 PM

18. And yet far right white nationalist parties have more electoral success Germany than in the US

Suppressing speech doesn't prevent bad ideas; it just drives them underground. The founders of the US were absolutely right in making the right to freedom of speech, thought and assembly central to our organizing documents, and I wouldn't call myself a liberal if wasn't willing to stand for those principles. I say be sure your children see and hear exactly what the Nazis of Charlottesville say and what they do, and then trust them to make the right decision.

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Response to funflower (Reply #18)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 02:02 AM

36. That's because we don't have a 2-party system in Germany

Far right white nationalists in the US don't vote for a nazi party because it would be dumb (wasting votes). They attempt to take over the Republican party instead, and it appears to be quite successful.

Hell, sometimes I think our current far-right party AfD is way more moderate than the average Republican. It's hard to tell though, since those far-right people never speak the truth to outsiders.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:01 AM

20. Bless you and your family, and congrats on 10,000th post

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:03 AM

21. K&R...

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:17 AM

25. I've long argued that this country needs a serious discussion about destructive propaganda

Not just Nazi symbols, but (actual) fake news (whether Russian sponsored or sponsored by a rich Australian asshole), the destructive subtext of all too many commercials, even nonpolitical commercials, etc.

Propaganda is something I've studied, and it is not an innocuous free exchange of ideas. It is not honest free speech, but manipulation. Unless you recognize it when it happens, and switch on your analytical mind and analyze it, it will slip past your rational mind, undetected, and it will affect you in some manner.

Outlawing all speech intended to persuade is inappropriate. But treating all speech (symbols included) as if it was the neutral exchange of ideas is also problematic, when so much speech does its level best to make sure that you do not think about its content. Part of the answer is to get back to the business of educating people about propaganda. But it is probably equally important to outlaw, or at least hold civilly liable for damages, hate propaganda and intentional deception.

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Response to Oak2004 (Reply #25)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 10:10 AM

40. Agree! Thanks for posting !

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:21 AM

26. "I believe the US Congress should pass a law that bans these symbols and salutes from being used"

such a law would run afoul of long established Supreme Court constitutional precedent.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:29 AM

28. This situation raises some really difficult questions.

In general I have always been pretty much a First Amendment absolutist - but after the events of the weekend I'm beginning to think one could argue that displays of Nazi and related symbols are so inherently inciteful that they don't deserve free speech protection, at least when used in connection with rallies and demonstrations. I know Brandenburg v. Ohio and other Supreme Court cases hold that for expression to be suppressed there must be an immediate threat of violence or incitement to violence; and there's also the argument that suppressing one kind of symbol or speech makes it too easy to justify suppressing other kinds of symbols or speech - but maybe, in this unique case, the Germans have it right. They learned the hard way, and maybe we don't want to learn the same lesson the same way they did. If a symbol has no other purpose than to encourage or incite hate and violence, should it be afforded First Amendment protection at all?

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #28)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 10:12 AM

41. Agree!

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:34 AM

29. I sure agree with you about how very fast things in this country have gotten worse.

But we cannot ever allow these nazis to exercise power in our political process, or the Russians, for that matter.

3 million more people voted for Clinton and if she was in the White House, there would be sanity.

We've got to get Trump out of the White House, and the radical libertarians out of the Senate and House.

We need to overturn Citizens United, and bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

We need to uphold net neutrality.

We have to get rid of the electoral college (check out National Popular Vote in your state).

And finally, all of us need to speak out and oppose these nazis and ku kluxers every step of the way. They must never go unchallenged.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:48 AM

31. WHISIS

Created from the ripples of the growing and exacerbated hatemongering media effect.
Erupting in violence and rage.
Unable to recognize or remember that most of these goon's grandparents probably immigrated here to escape similar past atrocities.
I would relish the opportunity to sit every one of these hatemongers down in front of the Statue of Liberty and have them explain, exactly, which portion of the words inscribed there they fail to comprehend.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:50 AM

32. There is a legal maxim:

Hard cases make bad law.

Think about what you're proposing.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 12:51 AM

33. We can pass laws all day long

or we can make it so socially unacceptable that people just don't engage in that behavior. We can call them out in person and on the Internet. We can notify their employers. We can camp out in front of their home. We can hound them to the very gates of hell and make sure they stay there this time.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Wed Aug 16, 2017, 10:10 AM

39. Thank you for making this your 10,000th post.

It is a memorable one. We need to remember the result of the last time Nazis gained power. We need to stop such things before it happens again.

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